Things I’ve Learned Since Being Divorced   Leave a comment

And it’s time again for one of my periodic lists, this time about things I’ve learned since becoming single. Are you ready?

Here we go. (Drum roll, please…)

I am more capable than I thought.

Now, let me clarify this. There are whole lists of things I know I’m good at – reading, baking, getting tasks done in a timely fashion, doing the taxes, snarking, things like that. But now I’m discovering I am also good at things I had no idea I was good at. (Like hoping you followed that sentence…) Some examples being:

  • Grilling. When I was growing up, my dad manned the grill. Once married, the grill became my husband’s domain. After the divorce, I decided if I wanted grillage, I would have to figure out how to run a gas grill. And you know what? a) It’s not hard, and b) I’m really good at it. Meat is cooked exactly how I like it and comes to the table with pretty grill marks on it. Chicken is neither blackened on the outside while still somewhat raw on the inside nor is it dried out and flavorless. And burgers get stuffed with cheese and other yummy things or marinated with flavorful spices. It’s awesome.

  • Minor home repairs. I need to start this section by saying YouTube is an awesome resource that I’m pretty sure I can no longer live without. This helpful site has helped me repair my dishwasher, my dryer, and my lawn mower (although I eventually decided mowing the lawn was something I could have someone else do), install a new toilet seat in the downstairs bathroom (yes, now I know how easy it is; I didn’t before, and let me tell you, we lived with that thing practically falling apart for years), and install a lock in the back hall. Some things I still am not ready to attempt, but I know if I want to YouTube will be there for me.

  • Making the outside of my house look as nice as the inside. Okay, so this one I had a lot of help with. The first September after my ex left, my library friends came over and helped transplant a whole bunch of pretty (and low-maintenance) things from the gigantic perennial garden he had put in over the years on our side property to the front of the house. Then this year, I discovered the joy and beauty of using bark mulch to cut down on the weeds. (Honestly, why did I think this was difficult? Oh, wait, I know. I never YouTubed it.) Add in a few flats of annuals (mostly dead now due to the serious lack of rain we’ve had this summer), and the garden – if not gorgeous – now at least looks like someone cares about it. The best part (and, yes, I know I’ve mentioned this before) is the new exterior paint job. Immediately after my divorce I had the inside of my house painted so what I saw wouldn’t be the same colors that were on the walls when I was married. This spring I had my painter back to do the same thing to the outside walls so the neighbors could see something shiny and new as well. And, damn, it looks good.

I really can manage alone. (Really.)

Those of you who know me know I unintentionally did the late-50s/early 60s version of life, going from high school straight to college and then right into marriage (with a year of grad school in-between where I again lived with my parents). Now, to reiterate, I didn’t go to college to get my MRS. To my complete shock surprise it just worked out that way. (I actually kind of figured I’d be single all four years of college. Who knew?) So, until my divorce I never lived on my own.

Granted, alone is a relative term as I have my son with me pretty much all the time. And the cats; while not great conversationalists, cats are and will continue to be a permanent fixture in my life. But living with a child is different than living with a partner or a roommate. He acts the way a lot of roommates do, leaving dirty dishes in various places around the house, not folding the laundry in the basket he leaves in the living room, and ignoring the bathroom that needs cleaning. The difference is this roommate is someone I am legally obligated to take care of. I mean, I would anyway because I love him, but it’s not like taking care of your kid is optional. If I get sick, he still needs to be fed, clothed, and housed. He relies on me to bring food into the house, transport him to school when it’s too cold out to ride his bike (although, I’m pretty sure he’d be happy if I neglected to do that every now and then), and for support – both physical and emotional, which I am happy to provide, even when it means my phone rings at 11pm just as I’m starting to fall asleep.

Someday our roles may be reversed, but for right now, I am the one who is (theoretically) in charge. When he is with his father, the house is quieter, but I find the quietness isn’t necessarily unpleasant. And I manage. Which leads to the next item on my list.

Being alone isn’t really so bad. (Really.)

I will admit this one honestly surprised me. Probably as much as it surprises you reading it here. As I’ve said before, ending up alone has always been high on my list of ‘things that frighten me’, but over the past few years (and, yes, I know it’s a bit thick of me to have taken sooo long to figure this out) I’ve realized being alone is better than being with someone who doesn’t really want to be with you. As painful as being left was, I am finally beginning to see the effects of that ‘big hurt’ were less than those of the myriad number of little hurts that had accrued over years of being undervalued and taken for granted.

I liken the realization process to the removing-the-band-aid dilemma. Do you yank it off to get it over with? Or do you pull the bandage off a little at a time. If you rip if off with one quick motion, it hurts like hell (well, it hurts me like hell; I have a very low pain threshold) but the pain fades fairly quickly. Or so I’ve been told. Pulling it off bit by bit lessens the intensity of the pain, but prolongs the length of time you have to endure it. Three guesses what end of the spectrum I fall on.

If you guessed the latter, you’re right. Intense bursts of things that hurt me aren’t on a list of my favorite things. (Funny that.) Which is why I think it took me so long to deal with my emotions surrounding the divorce. It was too much too quickly, and I needed to slow the recovery process down so I could… well… process it.

And now that I have, I’m discovering I like my alone time. I get to cook things I like to eat for dinner without having to consult with any one else’s tastes or preferences. I get uninterrupted reading time on the couch. I can choose what plays – or doesn’t – on the television. I can go to bed ridiculously early without feeling guilty or like a neglectful parent.

It’s kind of cool.

Are there other things I’ve learned? Yes. I’ve learned to like how I look and that others like how I look as well. (Sorry, Mum, it’s not that your opinion doesn’t count, but you’re biased.) I’ve learned it’s okay to tell someone nicely you aren’t interested in them. And how to block people who either don’t get the message or take it well.

Most importantly, I’ve learned that while my divorce was the end of my marriage, it wasn’t the end of my world. Even if it felt like it for far too long. And I’ve learned I’m more resilient than I thought I was.

Which, in the long run, can only be a good thing.

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Posted August 22, 2016 by wordsaremylife in random thoughts

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